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A Marketing Generation Gap - People vs. Technology

  |  November 12, 2013   |  Comments   |  

Which do you think will survive and which would you rather be a part of?

Two marketing styles I come across daily have me wondering if there’s such a thing as a marketing generation gap.

One is based on the old-school way where brands spend huge amounts on media each year. Used to getting professional services like planning and specialist advice for free, the marketers who helm this style focus on squeezing every ounce of benefit from the relationships their media budgets buy. The margins from media commissions used to be so fat it could cover a lot of costs so this "free" value added service was a viable practice.

The expectation for an agency to do everything under the sun continues today but the media budgets are the same as a decade ago if not smaller, and the work demanded increasing with sophistication. A typical conversation I have with agencies in Asia is figuring out how digital specialists can either squeeze the budget to accommodate more requirements or get efficiencies so they could do more with the little resources they have.

Archaic models of reach measurement are in place so it’s always a challenge to get more budgets. To these folks, it just seems easier to get reach buying into radio, newspaper, and TV as digital requires too much bespoke work. There’s little value placed on an audience or a community beyond how many times they can be "blasted" with messages.

Marketers of this style question the need for anything more than two or three message variations. Their funnels are linear and attribution models are ignored until another competitor does it. Brand custodians of this style frequently stumble to keep pace with technology and they don't really get how it has changed people.

Agencies and partners that work with them have to justify the value of the services they provide and are brow-beaten with stories of digital "stars" who are able to drive huge amounts of value from what seem to be "free" channels.

The expectation of "free" pervades everything as these marketers demand more from the people servicing them.

Across the spectrum there are brands that started without the luxury of TV, newspaper, and radio budgets.

These brands need to be agile and to quickly figure out where their customers are. They have developed a style of marketing that has at its core customer data. They track their customers in a variety of ways:

  • Which channels and devices are they to be found?
  • What kind of messages do they have a propensity to respond to?
  • How often do they need to be nudged before making a transaction?
  • How much will they likely spend?
  • How vocal are they digitally?
  • How much influence do they have with their social circle?
  • What’s their lifetime value?

The customer data they gather fuels decision making.

These new brands have digital mavericks who prime their teams to spend significant amounts of time understanding and dissecting data to get learning for even more bespoke campaigns. Click activity, sign-ups, downloads, transactions, and shares are fastidiously tracked and reported on.

Eagerly they explore new digital channels that are gaining traction and demand for feedback in real-time to make even more timely decisions. Resources are moved and ramped up without fuss to ensure ROI (return on investment) is maintained and new tools regularly sought out to improve the performance of their teams and marketing efforts.

For these folks, their success comes from correlating transactions and revenue to marketing decisions made and they are unabashed about demanding more from technology.

Two very different styles born over two eras.

You have one type of brand marketers that now bullies people in a race to get more value out of budgets.

And the other group, which milks as much value from technology as they can.

Which do you think will survive and which would you rather be a part of?

Title image courtesy of Shutterstock.


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Jermyn Toh

Jermyn Toh started cobbling together websites in the mid 90s and went on to work with brands like adidas, Apple, Daimler, DHL, Diageo, GSK, HTC, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Visa in various digital planning and marketing consultancy roles. He is currently director of Experian’s Digital Innovation Group and focuses on market development for Alchemy Social, digital strategy, and product innovation. He can be found on Twitter @jermyntoh.

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